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Steelers notebook: Steelers' Martavis Bryant questionable to play because of illness

Joe Rutter
| Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, 1:48 p.m.
Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant hauls in a long pass to set up a field goal in the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 17, 2017 at Heinz Field.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant hauls in a long pass to set up a field goal in the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 17, 2017 at Heinz Field.

Wide receiver Martavis Bryant was added to the injury report Saturday because of an illness and is listed as questionable to play against Jacksonville.

Bryant was sick and missed two days of practice in the week preceding the Baltimore Ravens game, but he suited up and played 48 of 76 snaps.

If Bryant is unable to play against the Jaguars, that could mean more playing time for Justin Hunter, who made his season debut against Baltimore and logged nine snaps. It also could mean a return for slot receiver Eli Rogers, who was a healthy scratch against the Ravens.

Rare homecoming for Posluszny

One of Paul Posluszny's fondest high school memories was when the Hopewell football team was honored at Heinz Field after winning the 2002 state championship.

“That was a lot of fun to go to Heinz Field as a team and watch the Steelers play,” he said.

Posluszny's hasn't enjoyed similar experiences at Heinz Field — or most other NFL venues, for that matter — since joining the NFL.

The Hopewell and Penn State product returns home Sunday to make his third appearance at Heinz Field. He is 0-2 as a visitor, losing to the Steelers when he played with the Buffalo Bills in 2007 and with the Jacksonville Jaguars in '11.

Posluszny, 33, is in his seventh season as a middle linebacker with the Jaguars, and he doesn't know how many more chances he'll get to play in Pittsburgh. His family has moved out of Hopewell, although a sister lives in Greensburg and other family members reside in Butler County.

“I'm excited. A lot of my best friends that I grew up with will be at that game,” Posluszny said. “All of my family couldn't get back, but I'll have brothers and sisters there.”

Posluszny hasn't enjoyed the type of team success in the NFL that he had in high school or at Penn State when the Nittany Lions went 11-1 and played in the Orange Bowl.

In 11 seasons that included his first four with the Bills, Posluszny's teams have compiled a 48-116 record, and he never has experienced a .500 season. In Doug Marrone, Posluszny is playing for his eighth NFL coach.

“To have 11 years in the NFL, I feel very fortunate,” Posluszny said. “I've had pretty solid health where I haven't had any significant injuries that limited my ability to play for a long time. The overall winning and losing record, I haven't had a ton of success, but that's not going to diminish my overall NFL experience.

“The fact I've been able to play in the NFL this long is a blessing in itself.”

Posluszny isn't sure if this will be his last trip to Heinz Field. Thoughts of a 12th season are on hold until the end of this one. Until then, he's trying to help the 2-2 Jaguars get to the playoffs, which would be a first in his career.

“Right now, I take it one at a time,” he said. “I'll go through this season and see how we finish and try to come out healthy and evaluate it after the season.”

Looks are deceiving

The Jaguars enter the game with the NFL's best pass defense but the worst run defense. The New York gouged Jacksonville for 256 rushing yards last week, getting touchdown runs covering 75 and 69 yards in a 23-20 overtime victory.

Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley said that doesn't automatically portend a big day for Le'Veon Bell.

“Some of that is a little misleading,” Haley said. “Obviously, they all count, but you see a lot of 2-, 3-yard runs where they're playing good run defense that gets a little misrepresented when all of a sudden there's a 75-yard play.”

Remove those two big runs from the stat sheets, and the Jaguars still wouldn't be in the top of half of run defense, but they would move be No. 27 instead of No. 32.

What's in a name

Such is turnover in the NFL that when the Steelers and Jaguars played three seasons ago, some of the players in that game are distant memories.

The Steelers won 17-9 at Everbank Field thanks to cornerback Brice McCain's 22-yard interception return for a touchdown. Back then, Josh Scobee still was kicking for the Jaguars and Shaun Suisham for the Steelers.

Still on the Steelers roster were Dri Archer and LeGarrette Blount. Tight end Michael Palmer caught a 1-yard touchdown pass — it was the second of two receptions he had in two seasons with the team — and Justin Brown had three catches.

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jrutter@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

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